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Monday, 2 April 2012


The public outcry behind Trayvon Martin’s “Murder’ focuses national attention on the fate of young Black men in the U.S.A. Murders involving young black males have soared in the past few years. But murder is only one manifestation of the racism against young black men. Indeed, the untold story in the U.S. is the way young black men are purposely used as pawns and falsely punished for political reasons by powerful politicians-- from the use of false arrests to long prison sentences to cover up corruption. The best example is the complicated case of one young Detroit black man ‘Davonstae Sanford’. This case touches on the fact that some powerful Detroit Black politicians have been involved with drug cartels, hit men, corrupt police and prosecutors for money. As a result of the high level of political corruption, there has been an unprecedented media black out in this case,
The basic facts are as follows. On September 17, 2007, Vincent Smothers (aka “Vito”) and Ernest Anthony Davis (aka “Nemo”) entered a house in the 19700 block of Runyon Street in Detroit. They were there to carry out a contract hit ordered by a man who goes by the nickname “Lano.” It is believed that the target was Michael Robinson, the 33 year old male resident of the home on Runyon Street. Also in the house that evening, however, were five other individuals, including a seven year old child. Five of the six people there were shot execution style – four of which died. Smothers was nothing more than a trigger man – a paid killer. His motive was the money he received to carry out this heinous act. But what was the motive of the man who hired him? “Lano” was never investigated by police, and walks free to this day, as does Smothers’ Runyon Street accomplice Ernest Wilbur Davis.
Detroit Police Homicide Investigator Ira Todd was the officer in charge of the investigation of Vincent Smothers. The investigation revealed connections to James W. Davis of Lexington, Kentucky, brother of Smothers accomplice Ernest Davis and a suspected drug trafficker who bragged about ties to then Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Police in Lexington repeatedly expressed concern for Todd’s safety in investigating Davis. An internal affairs officer told him, “Be careful; Davis surrounds himself with police officers and is well-insulated.” When Todd reported to his superiors the involvement of Ernest and James Davis in the contract murders carried out by Smothers, he was ordered to take his vacation leave early. A superior said “This thing is bigger than you. Trust me.” Officer Todd was then taken off the case and ordered to turn over all copies of any reports regarding it. He was removed from the Violent Crimes Task Force, assigned to a precinct, and ordered not to have any further contact with investigators from other police departments regarding the case.
When news began to spread that four people were murdered in an alleged crack house on Runyon Street in 2007, a one-eyed developmentally disabled 14-year-old black kid named Davontae Sanford, mysteriously stepped forward to offer police a confession of the crime. He signed a detailed typed confession that he could not have composed or even understood (because, according to his family, he could only read at a third-grade level and had the mental capacity of an 8- or 9-year-old). Based almost solely on his false confession, Davontae was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to 37-90 years in prison.

After Davontae began serving his sentence, Vincent Smothers, the contract killer, was arrested in 2008 and charged with nearly a dozen murders, including the murder of the wife of a Detroit police officer. Smothers confessed to the Runyon Street murders and named an accomplice—Ernest Davis. Smothers told the police they had the wrong guy locked up for his crimes and provided a confession which included details only the true perpetrator could have known, as well as a motive. There’s no dispute that Smothers confessed to the Runyon Street slayings, but prosecutors have never charged him or Davis with the murders and have never explained why?
First, Kwame Malik Kilpatrick was the mayor of Detroit, Michigan between January 1, 2002 to September 18, 2008 and left office because of political corruption. Kilpatrick comes from Detroit's most powerful Black political family. His mother is U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and his father Bernard Kilpatrick is a well connected businessman who ruined the lives of three former police officers connected to an ‘murder’ investigation of his family, then used $8.4 million in tax money to buy their silence when he learned their lawyer had obtained text messages showing he and partners lied at trial. The city’s top lawyer, John Johnson Jr., and Patricia Peoples, a cousin of Kilpatrick’s who is a human resources deputy director, was also implicated in the corruption. Among his early supporters was power broker Ed McNamara, the Wayne County executive whose chief of staff was Bernard Kilpatrick, the mayor's father.

Second, hit man Smothers claimed to have been a hit man for a drug cartel, is presently serving 50 to 100 years on nine counts of second-degree murder and several counts of assault with the intent to commit murder. Connect the dots. Detroit Police Department investigators Gerald Williams and Ira Todd, who helped take Smothers’ confession, have testified that Smothers admitted to the Runyon Street killings and stated that Davontae was not involved. Todd, who was also a member of the Violent Crimes Task Force, has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Detroit’s former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. His lawsuit, filed by attorney Michael Stefani, says, “During the continuing investigation, it was determined that Smothers was a killer for hire for a notorious Detroit drug gang that regularly contracted for the murders of members of rival drug gangs as well as dissident members of their own organizations.”
n the lawsuit, Todd claims he was removed from the Task force, demoted and otherwise mistreated because his investigation into the Smothers’ killings led him to Smothers’ alleged accomplice, Ernest Davis, and to Davis’ cousin James Davis of Kentucky. Todd said James Davis claimed to have a “business relationship” with Kilpatrick, and that when he reported that, his investigation was shut down and he was transferred. Kilpatrick's Mayorship was plagued by numerous scandals and rampant accusations of corruption, with the mayor eventually resigning after being charged with ten felony counts, including perjury and obstruction of justice.
Connect the dots. Mayor Kilpatrick and Ernest and James Davis are the most powerful and politically connected people in this unfortunate, tragic miscarriage of justice. Based on the clear power and corruption of the Kilpatrick family with the Detroit police department and there obvious influence on the judicial bench,

It would take a federal investigation into the Detroit Police Department and its connections to Mayor Kilpatrick, and the Davis’s Drug Cartel to legally free‘Davonstae Sanford’.

@Dennis Levy

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